Ricky Gervais: SuperNature
Director: Ricky Gervais
I haven’t found Ricky Gervais funny for a lot longer than I ever found him funny, something I explored when I made the wrong move of watching season three of After Life (I had mostly enjoyed the first two seasons, the first especially).
Pre-pandemic, Gervais returned to stand-up comedy and released a really embarrassing comedy special on Netflix. He punches down with all the authority of a white male that has made it and is sure his outlook on life is the correct one. But what baffled me was just how deeply unfunny it was. The guy that created The Office no longer knew what a good joke was. If I see Jeff Beck in concert I expect him to still know the notes. Imagine if Beck couldn’t form a chord any longer. That’s just unfathomable, right?
Gervais’ brand new special lunges lower than his previous effort. Drunk with power, high on his own richness, it’s as if Gervais saw the anger directed at Dave Chappelle for his anti-trans sentiment across his last two Netflix specials and reminded himself that he was so irreverent when hosting awards shows, so reckoned it was time someone held his beer.
Straight away, Gervais is in with punishing anti-trans jokes. Anti-jokes as well, though I understand that’s the less harmful issue here.
And then, crudely, he laughs it all away by pulling up the Scooby Doo mask on himself and basically saying, I don’t really mean any of this. It’s all just a show. Just jokes. I think you should be whoever, but these are just funny bits to laugh at.
See, not only are they not funny bits to laugh at, but thinking you’re playing a role like that is the ultimate stage in the creation of your own God complex. I wonder what day of rest Gervais imagined for himself – and then I wonder why he had to book a Netflix date on that day.
SuperNature has Ricky reminding his sycophantic-psychofans that he has too much money, doesn’t need to this and then proves his very heart is not in it.
It also relies on what was never a gag: Gervais mocking people on Twitter for tweeting their outrage at his blindly unfunny and brutally smug offerings. Way to prove you don’t care, by getting the last word in on a silent argument. Again, I know that’s not quite the main issue here – and defending Twitter is the last thing I ever want to do, but his insistence as a last word freak would be grating even if his material was both clean and thoughtful.
In the end of course it’s neither, but it has none of the deep rage of a Bill Burr or Doug Stanhope where you might see a point even if you don’t agree with the framing. And, not to defend them in any way, but it has none of the crafting of Chappelle or even Jimmy Carr, to name two obvious controversial comics of recent years – both of whom have given Netflix grief with their recent work.
So, you say, reading this far and either shaking or nodding your head: Why did I bother? My question, always, is why did Gervais bother. I’m lucky enough to escape this being insulted only by the waste of my time.
I’m sorry to those represented here as targets by and for Ricky Gervais. You don’t deserve his unsubtle, unfunny ‘jokes’. Just as he doesn’t deserve this platform.
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